The surprising way to boost your mood as you brush your teeth.

When I drive from my place to get coffee, there are two stop signs, then two sets of traffic lights.

This morning, though, when I got to the first set of lights, I felt absolutely certain that I’d only seen one stop sign.

So what had happened?

Did I stop at both signs, but only remember one of them?

Or — much worse — did I sail past the second sign, straight across the junction?

I’m pretty sure it was the first of these two, and I’m also pretty confident that it wasn’t some kind of memory problem, but just that thing where you do something routine and enter that kind of auto-pilot state.

It can often happen if you’re driving along a very familiar route.

Fortunately, minute-by-minute, part of your brain is indeed engaged with what you’re doing.

Another part of it, however, may be occupied with thinking what it believes are deep(ish) thoughts.

I suspect that if something out of the ordinary happened, like a child or animal running into the road, you’d instantly react.

But doesn’t it make you think about how much of your day can be spent behaving automatically, though?

And, don’t forget, this is time you’ll never get back.

Valuable time.

So here’s my suggestion for today, then.

At the risk of upsetting your dentist (and I won’t tell her or him if you don’t) next time you clean your teeth, do it with the “other” hand.

Left if you’re right-handed, right if you’re left.

Your teeth may not get quite the clean they usually receive, but you may well find yourself being far more in the moment than you usually would be.

Changing routines is often a helpful mood-building idea, as is finding ways to be much more aware of what you’re doing.

Will changing hands change your life?

Probably not.

Will it be interesting?

Almost certainly.

It might even make you laugh.

4 thoughts on “The surprising way to boost your mood as you brush your teeth.

  1. Love it! I do things a little to a lot differently whenever I can. Putting your watch on your other wrist, different routes to work, driving past a bowling venue and diving in on impulse for a game, getting up at 4 am for a shower and walk in the woods, fasting for two days on impulse and literally howling at the full moon because I just felt like it. And becoming aware of and trying every new experience that I come across so long as it is legal and not harmful to any person or living creature.

  2. I teach yoga and this is one of the suggestions I make sometimes. Great way to become more mindful/be more in the present moment

  3. Brilliant. Thanks! I’m definitely trying this tonight :-).

    I’m a left-hander and would seek out the left corners of tables to sit when joining a group for meals, to minimize bumping elbows. I decided a couple years ago to instead learn to use my right hand for eating.

    It was better than I hoped. Three great things happened. I now get to be more social, achieving my intended goal. But it also turned out to be fun, setting the goal and working towards becoming increasingly skilled over time. And, completely unexpectedly: the mindfulness required to learn helped me develop new empathy and understanding for children learning these skills for the very first time. Especially re-learning chopsticks with my right hand: I became much more conscious of the learning process and better able to explain and help others.

  4. I’ve just got back from a great camping holiday, where my routine was totally different everyday. I was ‘in the moment’ a lot of the time with all the activities that naturally come with camping, putting the tent up and down, preparing food and cooking outside and figuring out how to hang all your clothes when you go for a shower in the shower blocks, so that you can get dressed afterwards without dropping any of them on the wet floor!
    I’m back from my holiday now, which can have an impact on my mood. However,reading your email has just made me think about the fact that this could be in part due to my being back in ‘my routine’ and how no longer being ‘the moment’ could lead to ‘negative mind wanderings’. So I’m going to practise changing my routine today and finding new ways to engage my mind so its making the most of my valuable time when I come back from my holidays

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *